Three weeks after administrators announced new restrictions on alcohol at Baker Field, many student leaders are still unhappy with the clarified policy and the lack of student input in the decision-making process.
The athletic department sent information last week to student leaders through Student Development and Activities director Kevin Shollenberger clarifying the Baker Field policy for homecoming and announcing lower beer prices for Homecoming this weekend. The main alterations were the creation of a second Lion's Tail-Gate area where alcohol will be allowed, and lowering the price of beer from $3 to $2 as a special Homecoming weekend price.
Yet Barry Neuberger, associate athletic director of sports marketing, maintained the changes were not a result of negotiating with students, even though representatives from the athletic department's marketing division met with student council presidents and other student leaders last week. Neuberger said the meeting was scheduled to discuss marketing ideas related to Midnight Mania, and the Baker Field policy "came up almost as an aside."
"This was not a negotiating session," he said. "This was an information session so that these student leaders would have the most accurate information for their students."
But the students involved characterized the meeting differently.
General Studies Student Council president Stephen Davis, GS/JTS '06, said that even though the meeting was about other matters, student leaders soon "redirected the meeting" to talk about the alcohol policy.
Columbia College Student Council president Michelle Oh, CC '06, said that the students went into the meeting seeking clarification about the alcohol policy and hoping to make changes before Homecoming. She said student leaders sought to extend the concession stand hours, lower the price of beer, and open more student space to tailgate.
"There was zero consultation, leaving us with a situation that we had no say in," Oh said. "And they surprised us three days before Baker Blast."
Shollenberger said he had helped communicate information to CCSC and the Engineering Student Council. He said he had received several complaints about lack of communication, but called the final policy "very responsive to student needs."
"I understand why students are upset because of the process and not being involved, but the actual [tailgating] area is larger than it's ever been," Shollenberger said.
He also dismissed the idea that the University or the athletic department was profiting from the sale of alcohol.
"I'm hearing from students concerns or suspicions that this was a move for athletics or the administration to make money," he said. "I can assure you that they're not making money. I wouldn't be surprised if they're losing money."
Shollenberger said that Student Services offered to set up the Lions Tail-Gate concession stand, where patrons can purchase beer for $2 this weekend, to provide a way for of-age students to legally consume alcohol. The stand will be operated by University Event Management proctors, the same people used as alcohol servers at on-campus events.
Anyone who purchases alcohol at Baker Field must have a drinking wristband indicating that they are over 21, and they must keep the alcohol within a designated area on the north end of the practice field, according to the athletic department policy. Neuberger said that people can bring in food and their own grills, or use one of the four eight-foot grills provided by the University in this area.
A statement sent out by the athletic department clarifies that students and alumni without reserved parking passes-which were reserved for those who donate at least $2,500 to Columbia and are no longer available for this season-can tailgate only on the practice field, not in the parking lot.
Members of several fraternities, the most common groups on campus to host tailgating parties, said they plan to have parties involving alcohol elsewhere before going to Baker to tailgate.
Roel Garcia, CC '07 and president of Delta Sigma Phi, said his frat is still planning to tailgate this weekend to support the football team and provide an opportunity to interact with alumni, but he thought the alcohol policy would hurt "camaraderie within the Greeks" and support for the football team throughout the rest of the season.
"Tailgating over the last two years have been some of the best experiences I've had at Columbia," Garcia said. "Carrying everything in, taking everything up on the subway is an experience in itself, and they took that away."
Additional reporting contributed by Morgan Sellers and Taylor Walsh